Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Could They Work Together?

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With just four days until Election Day, and extremely tight polls, the Oval Office is still up for grabs by either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. If Romney does indeed unseat the incumbent President, and Democrats maintain control of the Senate, he will have to work with a politician that has grown to be one of his greatest enemies this election season and a crucial political figure in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

This election season Harry Reid has acted as the Democrats’ lead attack dog against Mitt Romney. Throughout the campaign, Reid has proved to be extremely competent in this role, clearly getting under the skin of the Romney campaign. Reid’s sniping at Romney has sparked an angry exchange of accusations over everything from the presidential candidates’ economic plans to their undisclosed tax returns to whose politics are more exemplary of their shared Mormon faith. Their faith seems to be the only thing these two have in common, and even with that  Reid charges that Mitt Romney has “sullied the religion.”

Given the vicious attacks by both sides this election season, would a Reid – Romney relationship in Washington be functional or wholly dysfunctional?

In Washington, while understanding that this duo is not perfect, the current sentiment seems to be that both men are realistic and would find a way to make the relationship work if Romney wins the Presidency on November 6. Romney supporter Sig Rogich, led the Republicans for Reid movement that supported the senator’s bid against Sharron Angle in 2010 said, “I don’t think that anyone would view them as the ideal pair — they’re from different parties, they govern from different perspectives, and they have ideologies that are not in sync. But they are also pragmatic.”

However, others believe that the Reid-Romney rivalry goes beyond partisan competition. For Reid, it may be personal. The current Republican ticket, Romney and Ryan, has centered much of its campaign narrative attacking on one of Reid’s largest legislative victories, by promising to repeal Obamacare.  They also have attacked the stimulus bill passed by Democrats at the start of Obama’s term, with which Reid is closely identified.

Billy Vassiliadis, a Las Vegas-based lobbyist who has worked closely with Reid for years, explains that “Mitt Romney has gone out there and threatened to repeal everything, he has attacked almost every policy that the senator’s been involved with. If his agenda as president is to destroy the last four years, Reid’s not going to accept that agenda. If Romney comes out with something that looks forward — Reid is practical and realistic and he’ll do what he’s gotta do.”

Ryan Erwin, Romney’s top Nevada strategist, does not seem to be worried about this relationship. Erwin believes that Romney’s history working with Democrats, and having policy differences and discussions, makes Romney a great candidate to work with everyone in Washington with respect. Erwin said, “I just don’t think it will be a significant challenge.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Reid will not be convincing his caucus to promote the president’s agenda – instead, he will need them to keep a last line of defense against the programs Romney wants to repeal.

While no one can predict exactly how this relationship would play out there is a silver lining to this story. We only have to wait 5 more days until Election Day to find out if this situation will even occur. Keep checking Destination 270 for all the lead up to Election Day.

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